In Alberta, parents may choose a full-time school attendance, a teacher-lead distance learning, or a parent-lead home education. They can also have a split of parent-lead and distance learning. Alberta has the largest number of students enrolled in homeschooling in Canada at just under 10,000, which is 1.4 per cent of students, according to the Fraser Institute’s statistics from 2014-15.
A homeschooling parent creates all plans, schedules and resource choices. There are two minimum required visits by a member of the school board to ask the parent what their goals are, and at the end of the school year, if those goals have been met. Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan are the only three provinces in Canada which provide financial support to homeschooling parents. We spoke with a mother of four who will be trying public school for her kids in the fall after homeschooling for four years.
Initially, Sinead Lockley and her husband Nate decided to homeschool their oldest child because they expected to move around a lot. Sinead was surprised by how teaching her son was completely different from her daughter. She was able to focus on what teaching style worked best. “You don’t really get that in school,” she says. Much like the old analogy of teaching a fish to climb a tree, every kid learns differently. In school, Sinead says, “you have to adapt to a particular style of learning, which is probably why when you’re in school you liked some teachers better than others. Maybe not based on the subject, but in how they teach.”
As a homeschooler, she noticed her kid’s strengths early on. “I know teachers will obviously see that in the classroom but will not necessarily be able to cultivate it.” When homeschooling, they can take as much time on a difficult subject as they need and ensure nothing is skipped over.
She admits that she really enjoyed homeschooling but is excited for her children to have the locker and hallway experience. Though, she says, “my daughter has asked me more than once, ‘mom, what do I do if I get bullied?’”
When asked if she would recommend homeschooling, she says, “yeah, I would. First, I would recommend it’s something that both you and your spouse agree on.” She also advises anyone who wants to try homeschooling to think about longevity. “You have to finish off the school year,” she says.
There are various styles of homeschooling, ranging from unschooling to militant schooling. One leaves the learning choices to the children, while the other strictly follows a public-school schedule, at home. In the end, however, Sinead says that they only needed a couple hours a day to cover all their formal lessons, though her children are always reading and learning in other ways.